Strong Mid-Year Results for US Pork Exports

US - A very solid June performance allowed US pork and beef exports to finish the first half of 2010 with strong momentum.
calendar icon 16 August 2010
clock icon 5 minute read

According to statistics released by USDA and compiled by the US Meat Export Federation (USMEF), pork exports of 164,000 metric tons (361.6 million pounds) were 24 per cent higher than June 2009.

For the first six months of the year, pork exports were 3 per cent above their year-ago pace in terms of volume (951,803 metric tons or 2.1 billion pounds). But with much-improved pork prices, export value was nearly 10 per cent higher at $2.35 billion. This is even slightly higher than the value reached in the first half of 2008 ($2.32 billion), the year in which pork export value set an all-time record. Export value per head during the six-month period was more than $44 – up significantly from $39.20 in 2009. The industry exported 24 per cent of its total production, compared to 23 per cent last year.

Pork exports to Japan rebound; Philippines, Western Hemisphere markets also strong

After an early-2010 slump caused mainly by high domestic pork inventories, US pork exports to Japan performed much better in the second quarter. January’s export value was more than 25 per cent below the year-ago level. By the end of the first quarter, export value still trailed the 2009 pace by 13 per cent. But April, May and June were all solidly in the “plus” column, pushing export volume to 226,171 metric tons (498.6 million pounds) valued at $834 million. This is a slightly higher volume and a 3 per cent increase in value over the first half of last year.

“Due to foot-and-mouth disease and some other factors affecting its domestic industry, Japan’s pork production has fallen by about 2 per cent in recent months,” said USMEF President and CEO Philip Seng. “USMEF has addressed this situation very aggressively to ensure that we are maximizing all opportunities in the retail, foodservice and processing sectors. But believe me, we are not the only pork supplier to do so.”

The United States is the leading foreign supplier of pork to Japan, holding market share of about 45 per cent for all imported pork and 72.5 per cent of the high-value chilled market. However, Seng notes that these market shares have declined by about 2 per cent since last year and says the US position of market leader absolutely cannot be taken for granted.

“Because of the outstanding return it delivers, Japan is a fiercely competitive market,” he said. “Japan is the No. 1 target for almost every pork-exporting nation, so growing our market share in Japan will always require that we remain very aggressive and innovative. When Japan’s demand for imported pork increases, that’s a great opportunity for the US industry. But it will be an opportunity missed unless we are very aggressive in capitalising on it.”

After shattering their all-time high in 2009, pork exports to Mexico have been on a record pace again this year. Through June, pork export volume to Mexico reached 269,598 metric tons (594.4 million pounds) – a 7 per cent increase over the first half of 2009. At the same time, pork export value has been especially strong, rising 31 per cent to $482.5 million.

Other market highlights include:

  • Exports to Canada for the first six months of 2010 reached 88,528 metric tons (195.2 million pounds) valued at $298 million – an increase of 13 per cent in volume and 23 per cent in value over the first half of 2009. US pork also performed well in other Western Hemisphere markets, increasing 30 per cent in volume (20,170 metric tons or 44.5 million pounds) and 45 per cent in value (43.7 million) in Central America. For South America, exports were up 27 per cent in volume (8,445 metric tons or 18.6 million pounds) and 55 per cent in value (21.3 million).

  • The Philippines has emerged as an exceptional market for US pork, with exports increasing by 78 per cent in volume to 32,620 metric tons (71.9 million pounds) and nearly doubling in value to $62 million.

  • Exports to Australia, also a rapidly emerging market for US pork, increased 28 per cent in volume and 38 per cent in value to 26,981 metric tons (59.5 million pounds) valued at $68 million.
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